Homicide by Vehicle — Vehicular Manslaughter in Pennsylvania
The most wanted man in the Northeast last March was Julio Acevedo, infamous for a multiple-vehicular manslaughter incident in New York City. In the incident, three people died after Acevedo’s car barreled down a Brooklyn street at 60 miles per hour on an early Sunday morning and crashed into another vehicle carrying a young husband, his pregnant wife, and unborn child. The husband and wife were killed at the scene. The baby was delivered prematurely and died at the hospital. Acevedo, who fled the scene, was charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter.
Vehicular Homicide, also referred to as Vehicular Manslaughter or Homicide by Vehicle, is defined as an unintentional killing of another person by engaging in reckless or grossly negligent operation of a motor vehicle while breaking traffic laws. It is a third degree felony carrying a maximum prison sentence of seven years, fines of up to $15,000, and a three-year driver’s license suspension.
In order to commit vehicular homicide, a driver must break a traffic law in a grossly negligent or reckless manner. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That a person drove recklessly or with gross negligence
- That the driver caused a death
- That the fatality happened while the driver was in violation of a traffic law
- That the death was directly attributable to that violation
Where alcohol or drugs lead to a fatal accident
Another more severely punishable form of vehicular manslaughter is Homicide by Vehicle while Driving Under the Influence (DUI). If the prosecutor can prove that the death was directly attributable to the at-fault driver consuming alcohol or using a controlled substance, the driver faces a second degree felony with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years and a maximum period of imprisonment of 10 years, along with a fine of up to $25,000.
Homicide by Vehicle and Homicide by Vehicle while DUI are undoubtedly two of the most severely punishable traffic offenses in Pennsylvania. A conviction in either case carries sanctions that can devastate your family life and your career. If you or someone you love is under investigation for vehicular manslaughter, get reliable and trusted advice from a veteran Berks County homicide-by-vehicle attorney immediately.